“Deal? How much do you need? I can get the money. What’s his price?” A spot of optimism touched his spine. Jack could handle money. He understood money.
Callahan paused. “He doesn’t want money, Harper.”
“Then what?” The optimism floated away.
Alex swerved to avoid a frozen puddle as he took the freeway off-ramp to Lakefield. Jack swayed in his seat and clutched the cell phone.
“Where are you?” Callahan changed the subject.
“About fifteen minutes behind you.”
“Shit. I told you to stay put. Stay the fuck away from this scene or I’ll bust your ass. I don’t need you getting in the way. I’ll have you cuffed if I need to.”
“If he doesn’t want money, what does he want?” Jack ignored the threats.
“He wants to trade. He says he’ll trade Dr. Campbell for you.”
“Done,” he snapped without hesitation.
Callahan paused. “It’s a bunch of bullshit. He’s obviously stalling. I don’t know why he suggested something so stupid. He knows we won’t negotiate with that.”
“Then don’t. I will.” Jack cut off the call.
Alex silently met his gaze in the dim light.
“Did you bring it?” Jack asked.
“In the glove box.”
Jack popped open the box at his knees. He reached in, and then hesitated, fingers hovering. Pressing his lips together, he grabbed the two handguns. He handed the expensive Heckler & Koch to Alex. He kept the Glock, reacquainting himself with the weight and feel of the gun, ignoring the sickening thunk in the bottom of his belly. It was the gun he’d carried as an officer. He’d given it to Alex years before.
He inserted the magazine and loaded a round in the chamber.
Mason stared at the phone as it flashed the brief time of his call with Harper. The guy couldn’t see beyond his obsession with Dr. Campbell. Bobby DeCosta didn’t want Jack Harper. He was screwing with their heads.
“What’d he say?” Ray steered with one hand, took his eyes off the road, and focused on Mason like he was on a leisurely Sunday drive. At one time, the dangerous habit had made Mason nervous, but he’d gotten over it. Ray had supernatural peripheral vision when it came to driving.
“What’d ya think?”
“He wants to go in, white flags flying.”
Mason grunted. Ray’s big bulk hid a sappy, romantic heart. “SWAT isn’t gonna let him near the scene. They’ve got negotiators lined up and snipers on the way.”
“Harper know that?”
Mason paused. “You don’t think he’d really try, do you?”
“Haven’t you seen the way he looks at that woman? The man is in deep. He can’t think rationally. He’d step in front of a bullet for her without thinking.”
“He wouldn’t do anything stupid,” Mason muttered. Would he?
Ray was quiet for a second. “You’ve never been in love, have you?”
Mason rolled his eyes. “Fuck you. This isn’t some Hollywood movie.”
He fumbled with his phone, pretending he didn’t see the careful look Ray gave him. The pity in Lusco’s eyes was making his chest hurt.
Lacey fiercely concentrated on the ropes at her ankles. One knot had finally come loose, encouraging her to fight the rest. She stopped for frequent breaks. The feeling in her fingers coming and going. She was so cold. A bone-deep chill kept her muscles moving spasmodically, clattering her teeth and shaking her arms. Like untying the knots wasn’t difficult enough.
A wave of dizziness rocked her. She lost her balance and thrust her tied wrists to the side in an attempt to catch herself, but hit her head on the floor. The ache in her head multiplied and a sharp crack had come from her elbow. She lay still, catching her breath, wondering if she’d broken something. Breathing deeply, she slowly righted herself, pain shooting up her arm.
A rustling outside the door made her flop back on the ground, gritting her teeth as she slammed her head again. Playing possum, if he was checking on her. The lock and handle clanked on the rough door and it slowly opened, scraping over frozen snow. The noise sounded ridiculously loud in the arctic silence. She kept her breathing even and tried not to scrunch her eyelids.
As natural as an icy, dumped body can look.
Her eyes flew open at that familiar feminine whisper. “Kelly?” she squeaked with stunned and frozen vocal cords.
A flashlight flicked on, its battery nearly dead. Kelly held her fingers over the bulb, letting the barest flicker of orange light touch Lacey’s face. Kelly flew across the dirt floor and yanked on the tight cords on Lacey’s feet.
Lacey stared at her, immobile.
Kelly was bundled up in a thick jacket with a hood. She was wearing boots and had ripped off her gloves with her teeth to get a better handle on Lacey’s knots.
“Kelly! What are you doing here? How did you find me? Did you escape too?” The questions stumbled over her frigid tongue.
“No.” Kelly glanced up at the ceiling. “Keep your voice down,” she whispered.
“No, what?” Lacey whispered back.
“He didn’t get me.”
Was her brain numb? “He didn’t get you? Then why are you here?” An echo of the pain she’d felt when Kelly vanished ripped through her. “Where’ve you been? Chris and Jessica have been worried sick.”
Kelly made fast progress on the ties and ignored Lacey’s questions. “Shhhh. We’ve got to hurry. Almost got it.”